In a farewell to Denver, brands convened for an Outdoor Retailer exhibition that felt like the good old days. And the gear did not disappoint.
The era of trade shows may have been permanently altered in the wake of the pandemic. But damned if it didn’t look and feel a lot like the heyday of Outdoor Retailer last week at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.
Sure, it still wasn’t at pre-pandemic attendance numbers, and it may never be again. But for the first time in a couple of years, the aisles were full, and the booths were all rife with brand-spanking-new gear of all varieties.
We scoured the aisles for 2 full days, pounding out miles of zigzagging hustle to see all there was to see. And we were rewarded with an outstanding array of contenders. We pared down the best of the best to five unique, innovative, and boundary-pushing products — some from brands you’ll know, and some from exciting newcomers.
Without further ado, check out the GearJunkie editors’ picks for Best In Show gear, from the 2022 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.
GearJunkie Best in Show Summer 2022
Kokopelli Packraft Chasm UL SUP
True innovations are not easy. If every brand could make something the fastest, toughest, or first of its kind, they would. So, anytime we hear a brand tell us it has the most anything in the world, our ears perk right up.
Kokopelli proudly unveiled the world’s lightest and most packable standup paddleboard in the world, and it looks sharp! Weighing under 13 pounds and packing down to the size of a sleeping bag, the Chasm UL sets a new standard for inflatable SUPs. (For context, most inflatable paddleboards run anywhere from 17 to 26 pounds.)
The 10-foot board will hold up to 250 pounds, and with all the bells and whistles packed — tracking fin, pump, repair kit, paddle, and leash — it still weighs in under 18 pounds. Kokopelli offers a lifetime warranty on the Chasm UL and prices it at $999, calling it “far and above the best value for lightweight, inflatable SUPs.”
Look for the Chasm UL SUP from Kokopelli to launch in spring 2023.
Five Ten Breast Cancer Awareness Release
We promise you have never seen a shoe quite like this special-edition line of adidas Five Ten’s Freerider Pro Canvas flat pedal shoes, launching around Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
The eponymous adidas BCA (Breast Cancer Awareness) collection includes four of the brand’s popular shoes: Freerider Pro Canvas mountain bike shoe (with an upper made in part from reclaimed plastic), as well as the TERREX Freehiker and Agravic trail shoes, and the adidas Ultraboost running shoe.
Despite the shoes’ performance, the designs that grace them are sure to stop you in your tracks. The creative work of Five Ten cyclist Veronique Sandler, each shoe boldly but gracefully carries “poignant, eye-catching graphics” to raise awareness of and support for women battling and surviving breast cancer.
Sandler spoke with breast cancer survivors to learn how they found inspiration. The stories Sandler heard brought to life shoes that depict women’s breasts and scars, along with images of trees, campfires, and music — it is equal parts startling and encouraging.
And as intrepid as the designs seem to us, seeing them go from concept to finished product was even more of a surprise to the man who first thought them up, senior product and brand communications manager Luke Hontz. The son of a breast cancer survivor, Hontz wanted to do something to honor his mother. But he said he never expected the concept to bring about a final product, let alone an entire line.
Look for the adidas BCA collection to launch in late September 2022 at adidas.com and via select retailers throughout October.
The brand will give a set percentage of proceeds from each shoe sold to support both the National Breast Cancer Foundation in North America and Breast Cancer Now in the U.K. Stay tuned for more rollout information.
Lume Six Alta and Cirra Sports Bras
“You Deserve A Better Sports Bra.” Full stop. That’s the mission of Lume Six.
Lume Six company founder and lead designer Margaux Elliott has over a decade of experience developing technical and performance apparel for cycling and snow brands like Giro, Pearl Izumi, and Sessions and is an accomplished cyclist — who, in 2020, became the first woman to climb a million feet on a mountain bike in a year.
Throughout her personal experience and work with other brands, she quickly realized that something was missing from sports bra offerings on the market today. So, she created her own line to redefine women’s experiences. All the way back in 2021, we were introduced to Elliott and her brand and began testing the product, and now, her sports bras have come to market.
One of the first things Elliott told us about was her goal to offer support and durability — without thick, bulky materials, removable pads, tough seams, and standard bra sizing. Basically, she set out to solve the sports bra conundrum for women who want to run, hike, mountain bike, horseback ride, and anything else — without feeling uncomfortable and annoyed by their bras.
The Lume Six bras are super lightweight — and they come in unlined and lightly lined versions and medium- and high-impact styles. The sports bras are soft, made with Italian fabric and the brand’s own single layer FeatherAir fabric at the back for breathability. Elliott thought of everything: lay-flat straps, a lay-flat band, and a design that’d let this bra quickly become one of the fastest quick-drying bras on the market.
The best part is the extended sizing to accommodate all body types: the sizing isn’t just S, M, L — you can get a small band with large chest size, or vice versa. Based on her size, one of our testers chose this option to fine-tune fit, and was blown away. Other amazing things about Lume Six: It’s size inclusive and should have sizes XS-3XL within its first year on the market.
Col Mountain Tech Mountain Stick
This trekking pole does a lot more than lend you support. Thanks to an innovative design that nests two smaller poles inside a larger telescoping pole, the Mountain Stick turns into a very stable tripod fit for multiple uses.
Exchangeable heads allow you to use them to mount camera gear, spotting scopes, or rifles. And once configured as a tripod, this device is rock solid.
While there are other tripod solutions built with trekking poles, the Mountain Stick is an elegant design that also exists as a trekking pole extremely well. It takes only about 30 seconds to switch it from pole to tripod mode, and it should be a wonderful solution for those who hike, photograph, and hunt in the wilds.
We do think this product will evolve over time, but as the brand’s first entry into the outdoors market, it’s a big statement and one worth considering even though it carries a hefty $350+ price tag.
Each year, millions of bandaids find their way into landfills, sidewalks, rivers, and the ocean. And the vast majority of those are made of plastic.
Now, Wool+Aid offers a biodegradable, planet-friendly alternative. Wool+Aid makes bandages with “hyperfine” merino wool, which is both sustainable and biodegradable. It adds medical-grade adhesive for a tough, yet soft and comfortable, bandage.
As an added benefit, merino wool is both breathable and naturally antimicrobial. As Wool+Aid also contains no latex, this is an option for some folks with latex allergies or certain skin sensitivities.
Wool+Aid is offering a range of options too: a 15-piece multipack for outdoor use, and another pack for “emergency” use (stashing in your glovebox or first-aid kit). There’s also a variety in sizes and shapes for all your wound needs.
With the global market for bandages and medical tapes at $9.5 billion annually, it’s nice to see a sustainability minded brand taking a turn in an industry dominated by large corporations.